The better side won - Joe

JOE Royle admitted that his side has gone backwards since last season. Reading manager Steve Coppell agreed - and has sympathy with his former Liverpool school chum.

By Elvin King

JOE Royle admitted that his side has gone backwards since last season. Reading manager Steve Coppell agreed - and has sympathy with his former Liverpool school chum.

Ipswich boss Royle said: “We drew twice with Reading in 2004/05. This season we have been comprehensively beaten twice, which shows that they have moved forward and we have not.

“Apart from Sito, Gavin Williams and Richard Naylor we did not get near them. Reading were fast and athletic and I am not going overboard about this defeat.

“Sometimes you have just got to hold your hands up and say you have been beaten by a better side.

“But I feel for our fans. They have seen us go close to promotion twice. We must now look out that we do not have to start looking over our shoulder.”

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Royle explained why he opted for a five-man midfield and just one player up front.

He said: “I thought it would stifle their midfield, but we did not get a foot hold.”

Coppell, whose team went top of the table, said: “Joe has seen his squad decimated. The players he lost during the summer tore the guts out of his team.

“It takes time to find a new blend and he is having to slowly replace some quality.”

And taking about his own side, Coppell said: “It means nothing to me at this stage of the season to be top.

“We don't want the highlight of our season to be October and November.

“We played well and created well on a slick surface that suited us. We had pace up front, but we are very conscious of the fact that this result is just part of a huge equation.”

Meanwhile, Ipswich new signing from Norway, Vemund Brekke-Skard, is to undergo a groin operation today.

The 24-year-old midfielder has been suffering with the minor injury for some while and played with it through the Norwegian season.

But with Town still to receive permission to field the former Brumunddal player prior to the January transfer window opening, they have decided he should undergo the operation now.

Town's first ever Norwegian is likely to be out of action for around four weeks and is expected to be ready to make his debut in the New Year.

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